WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama had 10 times as much cash on hand at the end of March as GOP rival Mitt Romney, underscoring the financial challenge facing the presumptive Republican nominee.
Obama on Friday reported a cache of $104 million in a monthly filing with the Federal Election Commission, compared with $10.1 million in the bank for Romney as of March 31. Obama's campaign raised $35 million during the month while Romney took in $12.6 million, the filings show.
A major bright spot for Romney comes from conservative super PACs and other independent groups, which are not restrained by campaign-finance limits and outraised both Romney and the Republican National Committee in the early months of the year.
The pro-Romney Restore Our Future super PAC spent nearly $13 million in March helping him beat back a challenge from former Sen. Rick Santorum, who spent $6 million and dropped out of the race. American Crossroads, a conservative group founded with the help of GOP strategist Karl Rove, raised $49 million in the first thee months of the year.
That puts Crossroads ahead of Romney's campaign — which reported raising $31.2 million in the same period — and the Republican National Committee, which brought in $44 million, records show. Crossroads and other independent groups are expected to spend hundreds of millions attacking Obama over the next 61/2 months.
The new figures underscore the expanded influence of Crossroads and other independent groups, which have been freed by court rulings to raise unlimited funds from individuals and corporations.
The amount raised in March by Romney pales in comparison with the $53 million brought in by Obama and the Democratic National Committee, but Romney has stepped up his fundraising dramatically since Santorum bowed out of the race.
The Romney campaign viewed the numbers as positive and said they were in a good position to challenge Obama. "Mitt Romney's continued strong fundraising shows that voters across the country are tired of the failures from President Obama," finance chairman Spencer Zwick said.
Despite a hard-fought primary contest, Romney's fundraising has lagged compared with 2008, though his finances that year were bolstered by a personal loan of more than $40 million. Romney, a wealthy former private equity manager, has not contributed any of his money to the campaign this time around.
Obama and the DNC have raised a combined $359 million since he launched his re-election effort, including $197 million for the president's campaign. Obama had raised about $240 million by this time four years ago, according to data from the Campaign Finance Institute.
Obama continued to draw more heavily from small donors than Romney. "People are building this organization five and ten bucks at a time to take on Mitt Romney," Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said this week.